Thursday, November 4, 2010

Liquid Clay to Shining Lights - Ceramic Christmas Trees, Part 2

Got a little delayed in making this Part 2 - sorry 'bout that! Things can get a little crazy with the holidays coming up --- I am sure you understand ;)  Last time we left off with our ceramic Christmas Tree almost ready to be fired.  We poured the tree, put holes in it for lights and now it's dry and ready for cleaning!

When we poured our Christmas Tree mold, there were 3 parts to the mold, so when we removed it, there are 3 seams on the tree. And who wants to have a tree with seams?Using a small cleaning tool, much like an exact knife but with one straight end and one flat end, I carefully scrape off the clay seams being careful not to chip the tree since it is in a very fragile dry unfired clay state - called "greenware".

Oh, and did I mention the holes yet? Each hole needs to be carefully cleaned and checked for fit.  While the clay was drying, shrinkage does occur so we need to go over each hole again to make sure there is nothing blocking (dry clay remnants in the hole) and that the hole is still big enough for the twist light that we will be placing on each branch later.

After cleaning the tree and base, each one is wiped down with a wet soft sponge to remove any remaining mold seam marks so that it is ready to be fired in the kiln.

Once completely cleaned, we can "fire" our tree in the kiln which will take it from the greenware state into the ceramic bisque stage, ready for glazing! It will take about 4 hours in the kiln, at a temperature of 1800 degrees Fahrenheit and the kiln will take about 8 hours to cool down before we can remove the tree.

Here is the tree just about to be removed from the kiln - it is bisque now and ready to paint!

OK, we are in the final stretch.  Part 3 coming up... we will glaze our tree and get it ready for one more firing and then we can decorate our tree and get it ready for one lucky winner of our giveaway!

I hope that seeing how we make our ceramic Christmas Trees is interesting so far :) 

Wishing you great health and happiness until next time,

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